Warrant: Dad refused to call 911 for injured teen
NEW CANAAN —In late March, New Canaan High School senior and baseball team star Andrew Knight packed six teammates into a car and swung by the World of Beverages liquor store in Norwalk to gear up for a party at his house.
What was intended to be a night of drinking for the baseball team at a house known for parties quickly spiraled out of control as more teens arrived, packing the Oenoke Ridge Road home with close to 50 underage teens who were getting sick and pouring beer on the floor.
But the night took a dangerous turn when a 17-year-old fell down the stairs under mysterious circumstances and was left unconscious for nearly an hour as Andrew’s father, Douglas Knight, 59, insisted they shouldn’t call the police. Now, nearly two months after the party that left the New Canaan teen with serious injuries and rumors flying around town, police have leveled charges against both father and son.
On May 18, Andrew Knight and Douglas Knight surrendered themselves to New Canaan police on charges related to the March 25 underage drinking party. The younger Knight was charged with delivering alcohol to a minor and permitting a minor to possess alcohol and the elder Knight was charged with interfering with an emergency call.
“We believe he obstructed someone from trying to make the call,” said New Canaan Police Chief Leon Krolikowski. “We believe he specifically told someone: ‘Don’t call.’”
According to the arrest warrant for the younger Knight, the party began as one for only the New Canaan High School baseball team. The 18-year-old, along with six teammates, went to World of Beverages in Norwalk. The younger Knight collected $10 from each of the passengers to pay for the alcohol and bought four 30-packs of beer, two handles of hard liquor and a bottle of Fireball Whiskey, before taking his teammates back to his house.
Police determined from interviews with local teens that the Knight’s home is known as a place for parties. Several teens said they’d previously been at parties there. In one of the texts from that infamous night — viewed by police through a search warrant — Andrew Knight alluded that his parents were “still mad” about an out-of-control party from the weekend before. Through text messages, police also found the younger Knight collected $10 from other members of the baseball team coming to the party to help cover the cost of the alcohol that had been purchased.
After returning from Norwalk, Andrew Knight then invited more teens via text, to the point where about 40 to 50 teens were in the Oenoke Ridge Road home. Most of the teens inside the home were between 16- and 18-years-old. Teens outside the baseball team began arriving between 8:30 p.m. and 9 p.m. Texts from that night show teens asking Andrew Knight if they could come to the party and he allowed them in, asking them to let him know when they got there and to go to the front door when they arrived.
The teens began drinking and playing beer pong until around 10:45 p.m. when Andrew Knight became angry and yelled at everyone “not on the baseball team” to leave. The teens interviewed told police the party was getting out of control, that the house was overcrowded and “trashed.” People were getting sick in the bathroom, drinking the younger Knight’s alcohol, throwing cans around and pouring beers on the floor.
It was around that time the 17-year-old was discovered injured, although police could not find any witnesses who saw the incident happen.
A teenager did tell police Andrew Knight was talking on his phone and the witness heard him say “unconscious” and “I don’t know what to do.” When several teens suggested someone call 911, the younger Knight said his parents told him not to call.
Also shortly before 11 p.m., two different witness told police they saw an injured 17-year-old boy lying at the bottom of the stairs. One of the witnesses ran to get help and found Andrew Knight in a back room “just chilling” with other people. She and Knight then went to the victim and tried to revive him with a “sternum rub,” but the victim remained unconscious. The witness told Knight to call 911 or his mom and he called his mother around 11 p.m.
The witness listened while Knight spoke with his mother, Shawnee Knight. He told his mother the victim was hurt and she was heard saying, “Don’t call the cops. Dad says not to call 911. Wait till we get there.” This troubled the witness who tried calling her father several minutes later. The call did not go through, so she went to the Knights’ landline phone where she was able to call her father, tell him what was happening and that the Knights were on their way home.
While the witness was on the phone, phone records show the younger Knight called his father and spoke with him for three minutes but still did not call 911.
While waiting for the Knights to return, someone arrived to pick up their daughter around 11:10 p.m. They tried to rouse the victim but were unsuccessful. The younger Knight called his mother again and gave the phone to the parent who told Shawnee Knight they should call 911. Still, no one called the police.
Around that time, the victim’s father called Douglas Knight to see if there was a baseball party at his house. The father had texted his son around 11 p.m. to see if he needed a ride home and to see where he was. When he didn’t hear from his son, he called the Knights, who said the victim was at their house and they were on their way home, but not tell the victim’s father about the emergency.
Between 11:10 and 11:15 p.m., the Knights arrived at the house, about the same time the victim’s father arrived unaware anything was wrong. When he realized his son was unconscious, he tried to sit him up against the wall. The victim opened his eyes briefly and then passed out again.
At 11:16 p.m., the female witness again called her father who wanted to know if anyone had called 911. The girl gave her phone to Shawnee Knight so she could speak with the girl’s father and heard Shawnee Knight ask the girl’s father what she should do. The girl’s father said to call 911 and Shawnee Knight said she was doing so after ending the call.
At that point, Douglas Knight interjected and said he did not want cops in his house and they could take the victim to the hospital themselves. Witnesses at the scene became angry and implored the older Knight to call 911 due to the severity of the injuries. He still refused, even after someone told him he wouldn’t be charged under the “Good Samaritan” law. As the elder Knight refused for at least 10 minutes, the witnesses began to get more and more angry, causing the teenage girl to curse at Douglas Knight.
After Douglas Knight’s final refusal to get help, the teenage girl called her father and told him no one was calling 911. The girl’s father called 911 at 11:23 p.m.
Shawnee Knight also called 911. The call was received at 11:24 p.m., nearly a half hour after the Knights became aware of the situation.
When police arrived at the home with the New Canaan Fire Department, they went to the basement where they found a hole in the sheetrock wall at the bottom of the stairs and small blood stains on the carpet. The victim was still leaning against the wall, unresponsive.
The younger Knight told police the teen fell down the stairs. When police asked how high up he fell from, Andrew Knight said the victim actually hit his head when rounding a corner to go upstairs and then fell. Police asked if there were drugs or alcohol involved and Knight said he didn’t see everything the teen was doing, but he was probably just drinking. Another witness said she thought victim may have been drinking, but he also may have smoked marijuana.
The teen was subsequently transported to Norwalk Hospital. There it was determined he had serious injuries. A physician at the hospital told police the teen’s injuries were possibly the result of an assault and probably not the result of simply hitting a sheetrock wall. He alluded the police should look into this further. This diagnosis, along with the indications of teen drinking, discrepancies in the younger Knight’s account of the events and the rumors flying, prompted the police department to begin an investigation into the cause of the injuries.
“It’s unusual in the sense early on there was speculation,” Krolikowski said. “It was (investigated as) an assault because of the initial review of potential injuries. That’s why we treated it so seriously and did such an in-depth investigation and, ultimately, we couldn’t point to the fact there was an assault, so it turned into what else happened there.”
Police conducted 30 interviews with teens at the party and adults who arrived on scene and could not find any witnesses to the assault, nor find evidence that an assault occurred. The Knights hired counsel and refused to provide statements.
Police did find evidence that Andrew Knight bought and supplied the alcohol for the party and Douglas Knight delayed the 911 call.
“There’s no bystander criminal responsibility for not calling for medical help for someone,” Krolikowski said. “There might be civil and ethical consequence, but nothing requires someone to call for medical help.
“In this circumstance, we believe Mr. Knight prevented someone for calling for help,” the police chief added.
Based on the investigation, which also involved securing search and seizure warrants, examining phone records and conducting electronic forensic examinations, police applied for arrest warrants for both Knights.
After surrendering themselves to police, both parties posted $5,000 bonds. Andrew Knight is due in Norwalk Court on May 31 and Douglas Knight will appear in Norwalk Court on June 1.
World of Beverages, where the alcohol was purchased, has been referred to the State of Connecticut Liquor Control Commission.
There was also no one available to comment from World of Beverages on Friday, May 19.
A representative for New Canaan public schools said the district had no comment, but said the students involved will be subjected to the New Canaan Ram’s athletic policy. The policy states if a student is charged with a criminal offense, they will be immediately suspended from the team.
The Knight family did not respond to a message asking for comment.